The American Public Keeps Getting "Sold Out"

By John Miano, December 21, 2015

Congress keeps providing new opportunities to plug the book Michelle Malkin and I recently wrote – Sold Out: How High-Tech Billionaires & Bipartisan Beltway Crapweasels Are Screwing America's Best & Brightest Workers.

Last week we had the spectacle of the 2,009-page spending bill for the remainer of the 2016 fiscal year, in which the American people were once again sold out.

As Michelle and I describe in Sold Out, a massive bill like this becomes a free-for-all for lobbyists. If the budget does not pass, the government could shut down. Therefore, anything that gets into the budget bill can only be opposed by voting to shut down the government.

We learned that the budget bill was prepared by only about four congressmen and lobbyists. In fact, members of Congress had to learn what was in the bill from lobbyists.

If this country had a less-dysfunctional press corps, the public would know who the four congressmen were who served as the gatekeepers for the budget bill; who the lobbyists were who had access to the process of writing the budget bill; who the clients of those lobbyists were; and the connection between those clients and the gatekeeper congressmen.

Immigration is one of the policy areas affected by this process. On page 701, nestled between appropriations, we find – without even a heading – an increase in the number of H-2B guestworkers:

Why is a provision increasing guestworkers buried in a budget bill like this? You can bet your house and lives of your children that money changed hands.

In a softball interview with Michael Medved speaker Ryan says:

Now there is also a little hysteria, hyperbole, and just innuendo with respect to this bill. For instance the H-2b worker provision in here, which is an immigration thing, it's like 8,000 temporary workers for one year, is all this provision provides.

The number of H-2B workers is limited to 66,000 a year under 8 U.S.C. §1184(g)(1)(B). What this provision does for 2016 is exempt anyone admitted as an H-2B visa holder over the previous three years. So how many workers is this?

If no one received and H-2B visa in more than one year between 2013 and 2015 and every one of those people applied for an H-2B visa in 2016, the bill quadruples the number of H-2B visas available (to 264,000) That is an unlikely convergence of events but it represents the upper bound on the size of the increase.

If everyone who received and H-2B in 2013 also received an H-2B in 2014 and 2015, the bill doubles the number of H-2B visas available (to 132,000). This is also unlikely but represents the lower bound of the increase.

The correct answer here is that the bill increases the number of H-2B workers somewhere between doubling and quadrupling the number.

Keep in mind the reason lobbyists write increases in foreign labor using obscure language like this is to make the actual size of the increases obscure and debatable.

In any event, Paul Ryan is simply not telling the truth when he says the increase is "like 8,000."

Speaker Ryan also uses the interview to downplay this issue: "The committee passed it in July ... It's a tiny provision."

But it if it's a tiny provision, Mr. Speaker, then why is it in the budget bill at all?

Make no mistake about it folks. This is government corruption. Lobbyists could not get the bill passed through the front door but payola allows them to get it in through the back door.

As we describe in Sold Out, lobbyists have used this same mechanism of a budget bill to pass H-1B increases.

This particular change only lasts for a year but there is another, permanent change to the H-2B visa program buried on page 888. This is a change to how the prevailing wage is calculated that must be paid to H-2B visa holders:

In the determination of prevailing wage for the purposes of the H-2B program, the Secretary shall accept private wage surveys even in instances where Occupational Employment Statistics survey data are available unless the Secretary determines that the methodology and data in the provided survey are not statistically supported.

The purpose here is to allow employers to pay lower wages to these foreign workers. Why would an employer bother submitting a private wage survey if the government provides one for free online unless that private wage survey had a lower prevailing wage?

The change from John Boehner to Paul Ryan has changed nothing in Washington. The message in these kinds of antics from the Republican Establishment to the American public appears to be "Vote for Donald Trump."